Friday, August 27, 2010


Urizen's Bible was not Blake's Bible
The First Book of Urizen copy F
1794 Houghton Library Object 4

We have often spoken of the distinctive way in which Blake read, studied and interpreted the Bible. Northrup Frye who was an ordained minister of the United Church of Canada before he was a literary critic, shows in this passage from Fearful Symmetry (page 370) how he and Blake were able to read the Bible according to the light which was given to them:

"The career of Jesus is visualized in the gospels as a recreation or epitome of the story of Israel. He comes of the seed of "David" that is, he is the new Orc or Luvah. A "father" who did not begat him, named Joseph, leads him to "Egypt," Herod's slaughter of the innocents being in counterpoint to the earlier Passover story. Returning from Egypt,he grows up and is baptized in the Jordon, corresponding to the crossing of the Red Sea; then he wanders forty days in the wilderness as the Israelites wandered forty years, resisting all the temptations the Israelites fell prey to, including at least one not presented as such in the earlier vision, the miraculous provision of bread. He emerges from the wilderness, gathers twelve followers, appears on a mountain with Moses and Elijah, enters and cleanses the Temple, and is finally lifted up like the brazen serpent in the harlot Jerusalem he came to redeem. In the mean time he raised up a new civilization through the power of the unlearned and oppressed people who were most receptive to his teaching.The new historical cycle is symbolized in Blake by Lazarus of Bethany and the Lazarus of the parable, and who is, like Samson, a vision of Orc suggesting the larger contours of Albion, whose resurrection may not be far off. Thus the "life" of Jesus presented in the Gospels is really a visionary drama based on the earlier vision of Jehovah, worked out not, in terms of historical accuracy or evidence but purely as a clarification of the prophetic visions of the Messiah."

Milton, Plate 24 [26], (E 120)
"When Jesus raisd Lazarus from the Grave I stood & saw
Lazarus who is the Vehicular Body of Albion the Redeemd
Arise into the Covering Cherub who is the Spectre of Albion
By martyrdoms to suffer: to watch over the Sleeping Body.
Upon his Rock beneath his Tomb. I saw the Covering Cherub
Divide Four-fold into Four Churches when Lazarus arose
Paul, Constantine, Charlemaine, Luther;"

Here is an earlier post on Albion and Lazarus.

Blake created his own 'visionary dramas' to present his prophetic visions of the Messiah which he was convinced could reveal the contours of a New Age.

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